Disney Beachbot Creates Pictures in the Sand

February 16, 2015 by


Beach art created in the sand is fun, creative, and entertaining. Disney is creating a little robot that can draw in the sand while you watch. Disney’s Beachbot is in the final stages of development, and while it isn’t ready commercially yet, the prototype has proven it can draw quality characters in the sand.

The orange and white robot looks somewhat like a cute little turtle and uses a retractable rake and a multitude of onboard sensors to create lines and designs on sandy surfaces.

The sturdy turtle design isn’t just cute, though. It provides a completely sealed and functional unit that stops sand from getting into the robot’s inner workings.

Beachbot drawing

Prototype Still Needs Work

Before it can be made available for the public to enjoy, the Beachbot prototype still has a few bugs to be worked out. However, the researchers at Disney say that it is close to being ready to accomplish large designs that span the entire beach.

They believe it will be a draw to tourists and other beachgoers as they walk by. However, right now the bot can only create designs within a 10 x 10 meter square area that must be marked by four poles coated with reflective material.

Beachbot rake

How It Works

The Beachbot detects the reflective poles with its onboard laser scanner and uses them to recognize the borders of the drawing area. Its retractable rake actually carves pictures into the sand.

This rake has seven individual movable elements actuated by servo motors. That means it can draw multiple lines at the same time, instead of just one continuous line. Plus it is capable of drawing lines of varying thickness, from five to 40 centimeters in width.

Along with this amazing feat is the fact that even though the Beachbot maneuvers on three wheels, the art work it creates shows almost no trace of those wheels within the design patterns. That’s because the rake is strategically attached at the tail of the robot.

The Beachbot is the creation of a partnership between the Zurich labs of Disney Research and a team of students from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The same team also designed smart software that can take an image and transform it onto a path of motion for the Beachbot to follow. This provides limitless options for artwork.

Early plans for the Beachbot include use at public beaches to amaze beachgoers. In a recent press release, the research team said, “Not only the final picture is important, the whole drawing process will provide an exceptional, magical show.”

Watch for a Beachbot on your next beach vacation.

Photo credits: Buzz60

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